Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fluvanna Has Fun For Families

(say that 3 times real fast, I dare ya!)

Fluvanna is booming and experiencing double-digit growth since 2001. With this growth comes demands on recreational facilities. Businesses have been able to meet the family fun needs for residents as well.

Fluvanna is doing all the right things!

Read more in this article which I found on the NBC29 Home Place website 12/17/07:

Fluvanna Favors Family Fun

by Joanne DiMaggio

According to Money Magazine, Fluvanna County has experienced double-digit growth in population and income since 2001. With statistics like that, it's no wonder that more and more families are calling Fluvanna home. Just as the population has increased, so have the numbers of family-oriented activities.

Angell Husted of Angell's Fitness and Dance has been a Fluvanna resident since 1978. Husted, who considers herself "the ultimate example of a Baby Boomer in the Sandwich Generation," has seven children, ages 18 to 44, and four grandchildren. As a Fluvanna County resident for almost three decades, she knows the county well. "I tell people all the time what a wonderful place Fluvanna is to raise a family."

Kathleen Walsh, Director of Friendship Gymnastics Center in Palmyra, calls Fluvanna County "a rural community with a ‘big city' activity list" and says the county has come a long way in activities for families since she came to the area in 1988.

"I started the girls team in 1992 and it was probably the only year-round girls sport at that time," Walsh said. "The number of sports, activity choices, and events has exploded in the last five years. I think that Parks and Recreation, under the direction of Keith

Meryl, has brought many new family outings to the county. Fluvanna currently has three swim teams and I believe two are year-round. I know that Dawn Francis at Laurel Ridge has been working on a kids' golf program through a grant. Her community golf classes have grown steadily over the last year-and-a-half."

Whether native to the county or a recent transplant, families are finding Fluvanna a fun place to live. Katie Martin, a piano instructor and certified and licensed Musikgarten teacher, operates Joyful Noise Piano Studio. Although she and her family have only lived at Lake Monticello for a little more than a year, she gives Fluvanna high marks for family opportunities. "We love the sense of family and community here," Martin said. "We like having access to the lake, and our ability to ride our bikes and go for a walk around our neighborhood."

Cindy Silverman, who with her husband Robert owns LM Karate Academy, sees continuous improvement in the range of family activities. "We moved here in 1995 and there was very little. Now there's a lot. Parks and Rec has gotten better and things have definitely improved."

Christy Schwertfeger, an instructor for the USA High Steppers Twirling Team, agrees. "I think there's a lot to offer my family. We go to several family events throughout the year in Fluvanna. As the county is growing, they see that is important to the families and I think they are working on that."

Age-Appropriate Activities

From toddlers to teens, Fluvanna County offers a number of activities geared toward specific age groups so no one is left behind.

"At Lake Monticello they have teen movie night," said Schwertfeger. "Parks and Rec has lots of age-targeted activities for kids of all ages. The library has activities for younger kids. Sports are age-targeted. A lot of stay-at-home moms get play groups together for their tiny ones and a lot of home-schooled moms have activities for their groups. Family-oriented activities at the lake include a great 4th of July celebration that lasts all day long and entails activities for adults and kids. The Fall Fest at Central Elementary is a family-oriented activity for the community. Oktoberfest at Lake Monticello is for families and kids of all ages. The haunted house at Pleasant Grove is something for the whole family. The Christmas celebration at Carysbrook, sponsored by the Girl Scouts, is for younger kids. Old Farm Day is a great activity for the entire family. Breakfast with Santa at Lake Monticello is for the smaller kids. The local churches have a lot of family-oriented activities and the Sheriff's Department has a safety day."

Silverman said that while most activities are age-oriented, she sees entire families utilizing her facility. "I can't speak for other businesses, but whole families do things here, sometimes in the same class. I have families of 5-6 people where the whole family does karate and competes against each other."

Silverman, who has three children, ages 4, 7, and 10, said that her family enjoys other activities besides karate. " Baseball is a biggy with us. My husband coaches a baseball team, so a lot of our karate students play baseball for him. Our daughter does baton twirling. There's plenty of stuff. If you want to get involved, it's not hard to find."

Schwertfeger says her family's favorite activity is Old Farm Day. "My little girl loves going. They tell us about the rural atmosphere of Fluvanna. Kids can go riding. We love to do that. It's probably one of our favorites, along with the Christmas celebrations, 4th of July, and Fall Fest. We try to make it for all of those."

Walsh said several of the activities that Friendship Gymnastic Center offers have grown in popularity over the years. "We host one event each month that the parents look forward to, and that is Parent Night Out. The kids stay at the gym from 5:30 to 11 p.m. and the parents get to go out. Every spring we host the Friendship 5K Run, which I believe is the oldest 5K race in the county. Our big family event each year is Gym-Fest. It runs all day with shows, games, and activities for all. We see between 500 and 700 people in six hours."

New Residents Find Info Easily

If you're new to Fluvanna, it does not take long to find out about family activities. "Most of the local businesses have a Web site, so you can plug in ‘karate' and we'll come up or if you plug in ‘dance' Angell will come up," said Silverman. "Any of the other stuff, go to Parks & Rec. You don't even have to go-it will come in the mail with all the programs and options."

Schwertfeger said that Lake Monticello has their own TV station and posts all the activities in the community, as does the Fluvanna Review and the Rural Virginian. "Lots of flyers go out all over the community," she said. "At Lake Monticello, we have cubbies in our mailboxes and they're stuffed with activities all the time."

Private Businesses

Husted, Martin, Schwertfeger, Silverman, and Walsh all have their finger on the pulse of activities in Fluvanna because they are all actively involved in family-oriented businesses.

The Friendship Gymnastics Center is a fully equipped gymnastic facility (10,400-square-feet) that is open year-round, serving ages 1-1/2 to 18-year-olds. Among its activities are after-school programs; various summer camps; cheer classes, competitive JV and varsity cheer squads; Brushwood School of dance satellite program; a boys and a girls gymnastic class; Parent and Me classes; gymnastic teams; birthday parties; and golf classes.

Angell's Fitness & Dance offers ballet, tap, and jazz for all ages (the youngest student is 3 and the youngest-at-heart-dancer is 91); Mat and Power Pilates; one-on-one and small group personal training; and weight management consulting for teens and adults. The Kindermusik program, led by Melissa DiGrazio, offers a variety of classes for newborn through age 5 that include fun parent participation.

The intergenerational theme Husted follows also includes the annual "Timo's Memorial 5K," which she founded and which her business sponsors. This annual event is in memory of her son, Timo Husted Wright, who at age 17 was killed in a car accident on Route 53. This year's run is at 10 a.m. on December 1, with proceeds going to local fire and rescue units. "Whole families-children, parents, grandparents-enjoy participating each year in this run or walk event, and now there's even a ‘stroller brigade' category," said Husted.

Christy Schwertfeger started teaching baton twirling in Ohio in her late teen years. When she came to Fluvanna, there was nothing for baton twirlers. After her daughter was born, she decided to offer twirling classes and now has 20 students from toddlers to teens who perform at many local events.

"My goal for them is to improve their self-confidence and self-esteem where they can get out in front of people," said Schwertfeger. "I have shy little girls and when they get out on performance day and the audience is smiling, they feel good about themselves. That will help them in life."

LM Karate Academy has programs for two-year-olds up to senior citizens. "People are here for all different reasons," said Silverman. "Some for self-defense, some exercise, some love karate, and some want to learn karate and compete at a national level and we do that. We have people from all over, including Charlottesville, Louisa, and Kents Store. It's like a big family. We do demonstrations and perform at the Fall Festival at Central every year. We also perform at First Night Virginia."

Katie Martin's Joyful Noise Music Studio offers music classes in three groups. Musikgarten, for children up to age five, is early childhood music and movement classes, nurturing the musician in every child and giving children the tools that will serve them well as they go through school--the ability to listen well and greater control of their bodies. Private Piano Lessons, which offer a flexible, age-appropriate curriculum tailored for students ages 6 through adult, instills a love for music making as a whole through learning the piano. Enjoying the Piano Together is a non-pressured, non-stressful recreational music making class designed for adults who have always wanted to play the piano.

What's Missing?

What activities and programs would Fluvanna residents like to see in the coming years? Martin hopes to see miniature golf; Silverman wants to see more high school teams develop; and Walsh is looking for more evening activities for teens.

But for Christy Schwertfeger, it's parades. "I think our community is big enough to start thinking about parades," she said. "For the 4th of July, you need to go to Scottsville to get that big parade feeling from the community. The Scottsville parade is huge and they're a little community. I think Fluvanna County can handle parades at Christmas and 4th of July. I'd like to see that bring the community together."

Whatever the future may hold, everyone is in agreement that Fluvanna County is a truly family-friendly place to raise a family.


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